changing seasons, foraging, free food, heart and home, home grown, home made, home making., seasonal, seasonal food, seasons

Recapturing our sense of wonder

It’s been strange but welcome summer, the weather, wet, warm with sunny periods allowing the gardens and hedgerows to flourish. I take my daily walk with the dog around the local park which has wilder areas along its perimeter. I watch with anticipation for the ripening of the blackberries, relishing them even more because their harvest has been poor the last two dry summers. Oddly enough while many of the bushes are only just setting berries, other bushes are offering rich, plump black berries. There aren’t enough in number to make anything other than a blackberry and apple crumble, but I find myself watching the laden bushes for signs of ripening fruit each passing day with relish.

Anticipation is something rare in the days of next day delivery and instant gratification, it seems a somewhat old fashioned idea, to watch and wait. However, we all remember as children, the passing of each day in December in the run up to Christmas, the traditions that mark the passing days being large in our memories more than the gifts we received. The arrival of the Advent calendars, Christingles with their oranges and sweets, the Christmas carols and the school plays. As children we had a sense of wonder, as we watched and waited. It all seems lost as adults, our Decembers are filled with shopping lists and to dos, organising who is going where and writing cards more out of duty than of love. Adults bemoan the arrival of Christmas preparation in our stores because it all seems to rush by in a blur…

So as I watch the blackberry bushes ripen slowly, that anticipation takes me back to childhood wonder, alongside precious moments with my children collecting natures bounty. Our companionable chatter as we negotiated the brambles. Our labour of love made our jam more delicious because it was work of our own hands.

On reflection I am pleased there is no next day delivery in nature, I have learned patience which makes me relish those seasonal pleasures, the elderflowers in spring heralding my elderflower cordial making, the strawberries ripe with the summer sun are captured in my compotes to be savoured on a winters morning breakfast. The blackberries herald the end of summer days and the season of Autumn harvests.

We are not great jam eaters, I hope to make some blackberry mead, but for the time being it remains a tantilising dream as I watch the ripening fruit with wonder.

Adventures

Blogging why I love it

Titchfield Abbey

I missed it…

I deliberately took a break from blogging to see if it left an empty space in my life, surprisingly it did. I am a word lover – pictures only tell part of the story and while many of the ‘in crowd’ people who wrote really popular blogs with thousands of followers have trotted off almost mid post – to other picture heavy platforms, I still prefer it here. I suppose I could compare it to reading a book and seeing a film eh? The words give me a richer deeper experience – than an instagram post or a Pinterest pin. which leads me to my next reason for loving blogposts…

A glimpse into another world

Connecting with others

We watch the news – especially international news where there are stark reports – the current race riots and the corona virus pandemic situation in North America is my case in point here, it portrays a very negative portrait of a vast country and culture. Blogging is a glimpse beyond the headlines, a little piece of ‘from our own correspondent’ (radio 4 reference). I love being able to connect beyond the headlines, see how other countries and cultures really live. Maybe also see how they are coping with the current crisis – we find similarities, the same fears the same challenges…perhaps they also face hardships and challenges that are beyond my experience, giving me a gratitude for things taken for granted, such as free health care. Reading other people’s brings us together, what we share, what we struggle with, in this flawed human experience.

Stitch meditation..

Its an advertising free zone (if you pick your blogs carefully)

We live in a consumerist society, the sheer deluge of advertising threatens our welling because it needs to create room for buying new products by making us unhappy. Blogging is a relatively advertising free zone… mostly, I just don’t subscribe to a blog full of flashing advertising. Yes, there will be recommendations for products but they are a side dish not the main course. A blog post about a wonderful tea shop – is genuine, the person has been there and posted pictures of the delicious cake… its real.

On the flip side, there doesn’t appear to be as much ‘manipulation’ when I write a blog post about yellow and black striped shoes, I don’t tend to see these come up in a google search. Nor am I given targeted suggestions of blogs I should follow, or services I might need, like other platforms.

Blogs are written by others, like me, sitting in front of a computer writing about their genuine lives and their genuine families without any airbrushing or product placement, long may it continue. (A little bit of photo editing is ok though!)

contemplation spot, Buckland Abbey

It makes you an observer and reporter of your own life

I have always been reflective – but I enjoy scrolling back through my blog as if scrolling back through my life. Its a record of my journey over the last few years, all be it the highlighted versions. I have learned in that time what works and doesn’t work for me, regular deadline blogposts don’t fit my style – I tend to post when I have something to write about, which makes them more interesting, hopefully. I would like to get to a stage where I actually plan posts with a beginning and end rather than splurging but there is always room for growth.

The first time I hit publish, I remember feeling a rush of excitement; growing up before computers and blogs publishing was a childhood dream that I hoped to achieve some day. While I might not be publishing a best selling novel, I am getting my story out there, my life recorded – a modern day version of a cave drawing, and who knows, maybe some future social historian will pour over blogs like they pour over family tree records in dusty archives. That said, I don’t believe anything I write will be of great historical value, but if nothing else it has value to me, that I have not only lived, but how I have lived.

While I am on the subject – a blog is something you settle into, it has taken me a while to find my rhythm, to find my voice. To anyone starting out – ignore the marketers and PR advisors who turn your wonderful creative space into a number crunching marketing monster. I was fooled into ‘100 ways to get a 1000 followers’ advice too, ended up feeling my relaxing hobby was a treadmill where I was trying to please people to tick a follow button. Don’t get me wrong, I love that my words are read, and I am surprised that after months of very little content, my blog still gets views, but that is a sweetener not the sustenance of why I do this. As I see it it is the only way to do this and keep the joy alive is to write when you have something to say and something to share, even if it is a round up of your week.

Captured moments – flowers fade but photo’s don’t

Creative outlet

I have a very dear friend who clicks her phone camera every time we meet and posts it to social media within minutes of our meeting. As an introvert I have to use my telling off voice to stop her pressing the button! I want to see what she is posting before it goes out to the world, but more importantly, I want to connect with her properly and yes, maybe remember the experience with a photo, but instagram look at me! is just not, well, me. I don’t want to get the ticket, or the photo, I want the experience first and then photograph what I would like to capture to spark memories of a wonderful time, not just a been here done that click and collect.

I noticed this most when I was standing in front of Van Gogh’s study in Blue in the Musee D’Orsay – it is exquisite, I was standing about 10 feet away from the painting when I noticed that people were walking up, standing with their backs to the picture and taking a selfie, the picture was just a back ground to their ‘important pictures’ this is me, in front of a van Gough picture. It was shocking to me that they rarely actually turned around to face the picture itself and really experience the moment. To observe the brushstrokes on the canvass, to see the multiple shades of blues and yellows that came together as a whole – they were just ‘stamp collecting’ in my book without actually experiencing the moment.

Blogging allows time for planning, especially photography, the composition, framing, editing – the write up about the event, which means you have to experience the event first, all help me to live and record life. If I am going to write up a review of a book, then I might make the odd notes, or think about the writing style. Or if it a holiday experience, I might note the smells, what I saw and what it felt like – so I can write it up later.

Yes, it is great to click pictures of what I am doing, but sometimes it is a wonderful creative exercise to put a photoshoot together. Even the lighting or the staging, like my oat milk pictures. I really enjoyed playing with the composition, finding the objects like the bowls etc, it was a wonderful outlet for creativity. Without the blog, all that work would have been gone in an ‘instant gram’.

I follow people’s blogs because of the sheer beauty of their photography, captured family moments, they are a delight to see visually and they tell a richer deeper story than the words that go alongside.

There is no censorship

There are bloggers in China and the Arab states who still bravely manage to get their stories heard – women that talk openly about subjects under the anonymity of blogging that they could not discuss face to face.

I am in none of these positions thankfully, I am free to express my opinions on what matters to me without fear that the secret police will knock my door but it isn’t as free and easy as it might seem. There is a more insidious side to even our free democracy, where news organisations owned by multi nationals or Government advisors spin doctors and the like don’t tell us the whole story. I fear we have lost our independent reporting, even Auntie (the good old BBC) which is supposed to be independent and free from pressure of government has to go cap in hand for its funding. We are fed the information we are given, and other platforms have been caught out by spreading and influencing the wider population with fake news.

Back in this little back water – real news is posted everyday, it may be the birth of a baby, or the antics of a dearly beloved pet, or the project completion of a hobby, all these stories are given space among the many voices that flood our waking moments. I can choose to tune into those, because it is these stories, the every day lives that real people live that make us all unique. Most bloggers aren’t trying to push their politics or their brand down my throat, they are just speaking their own truth, very often from the heart. Authentic genuine truth which is getting a scarce commodity on other platforms.

So here is to blogging, long may it continue.

Adventures

A season of hope

mini quilt and daffodils

I have noticed a pattern – usually beginning in November and lasting until March, a sense of sadness and lack of enthusiasm for creativity, if I was a bear I would curl myself up and sleep through those dark months. The sunrise back in February was around quarter to eight, but now, thankfully it is rising at six twenty; this means it is easier for me to wake up in the mornings and I am sensing a shift of energy. That is why I am most grateful for the humble daffodil – a vase of badly needed sunshine alongside the promise of spring.

Cherry blossom and blue skies

It has been a struggle these last few weeks, where monochrome skies made the sun a distant memory and drizzling rain that seeps into the clothing making me damp and cold. However, just a few short days of blue skies and sunshine and my mood lifts. On my daily walk I spotted this glorious cherry, nestled among the other bare branches it was a delight – I like to stand for quite a few moments and relish the delicate flowers. Other people walking the park ignore me, even though I do feel as if I am looking like a mad woman, but these small acts of noticing really lift my spirit – now my behaviour has a legitimate title of ‘mindfulness’. I think all artists are just sensitive thin skinned souls who have a desire to sense things deeply, be that listening to birdsong or observing the colour variations on cherry blossom. New technology means I usually have my cameraphone at hand, but pictures really don’t capture the detail as beautifully as the naked eye.

daffodils in spring

Each year our park has a river of daffodils – a sight that is beautiful and fleeting – its one of the highlights in the season. Knowing its time is brief I like to stop and enjoy the view, the whole river is about 90m in length – the planting would have been quite a task – so I offer thanks to the park keepers and the local council. I feel a sense of rhythm, now that I have lived here for a few years, the daffodils and the Elder are always the first to show themselves and one by one the trees wake up – the beeches being the most reluctant but then I know Summer is here. I also notice the firs are dropping their cones right now – I can’t believe it has taken me this long to realise why I never find them in Autumn. I come home from my walks with bounties of these lovely wooden flowers stored up for winter decoration. I believe Spring and Autumn feature so heavily in my mind because it signifies a change, Autumn is about snuggling down for winter and Spring is all about waking up!

I am a fan of drinking out of bone china – as well as leaf tea made in a tea pot. The only problem with that is you either make a pot of tea that goes cold before you can drink it all, or you make tea in the tea cup using an infuser but you only get a thimbleful. I decided to seek out a thermal tea pot, using these not only would keep the pot of tea hot, but it is more environmentally friendly as I wouldn’t be putting the kettle on too much. After a good trawl through the internet, I found various insulated pots but none of them appealed to me. In the end I looked at insulated flasks leading me to this insulated jug – I love the shape and colour! It works, I made a whole pot of tea and it was still warm four hours later!

from an unknown colouring book source

Ask me to sit and meditate and I will last about thirty seconds, ask me to stitch and I will sit for hours enjoying the mindful meditation that comes when hand stitching! This is the latest stitch project. I used a colouring book page from Pinterest, (sadly could not find the source, if you know it please let me know so I can give due credit) I adapted it slightly but what attracted me mostly was the beautiful design on the lady’s jacket. I also played with basket weave stitch, the technique improving as I moved further up the basket!

Surface design -using crayons

Our monthly workshop was about creating your own fabric designs onto white fabric. I explored the backgrounds using a ‘brass rubbing’ technique with crayons onto a large stamp – then I used a hare stamp which is absolutely delightful. The process was enjoyable and I will post on Made for mii about the process.

inspiration from Pinterest

I came across this beautiful piece on Pinterest, it is from Danielle Roothooft it is one of those pictures where again, I can happily stare at for a good few moments, there are so many beautiful pictures of her work on the site, it is well worth a visit.

Adventures

Alice Hoffman – book reviews

I have Lovely and Grateful to thank for bringing this author to my attention, I adored the film of this book – the beautiful house by the sea, the cosmetic business, it all seemed so wonderful. Yet the film is a mishmash of the two books, Practical magic and the Rules of Magic.

Alice Hoffman is a wonderful writer, I loved practical magic so I thought I would step away from the Owens ladies and read a few of Hoffman’s other novels, and I am so pleased I did. I ended with the Rules of Magic and the two books are along a similar vein they feel like the teenage fiction I read when I was 14, which was like returning to my teenage self.

These are teenage coming of age stories, all the characters are overshadowed by fate, they can never fall in love. But in all honesty, the question is do we allow pre-conceptions to shape our lives or do we set our own course? I loved practical magic but the rules of magic just seemed to be way too long and short on action. Probably why I decided to take a break from this author after reading rules of magic: but thankfully, I read two other novels of Hoffman in between and I can see how much this writer’s talent and ability grew and why Hoffman is an author I will be following closely.

sheer genius

I read faithful after Practical Magic – oh my goodness the two could not be more different, Faith is a richer, deeper tale beautifully written and completely uplifting.

She was disappearing inch by inch, vanishing into thin air, and then one day a postcard arrived . . . There was no return address, no signature, only a scrawled message: Say something.

Shelby Richmond is an ordinary girl growing up on Long Island until one night a terrible road accident brings her life to a halt. While her best friend Helene suffers life-changing injuries, Shelby becomes overwhelmed with guilt and is suddenly unable to see the possibility of a future she’d once taken for granted.

But as time passes, and Helene becomes an almost otherworldly figure within the town, seen by its inhabitants as a source of healing, Shelby finds herself attended to by her own guardian angel. A mysterious figure she half-glimpsed the night of the car crash, he now sends Shelby brief but beautiful messages imploring her to take charge of her life once more . . .

What happens when a life is turned inside out? When you lose all hope and sense of worth? Shelby, a fan of Chinese food, dogs, bookshops, and men she should stay away from, captures both the ache of loneliness and the joy of finding oneself at last. This spellbinding, poignant and life-affirming story of one woman’s journey towards happiness – and the power of love, family and fate.

(Amazon listing)

It took me a while to relate to Shelby – but after the first couple of chapters I was hooked, this is a story of hope and redemption – and how small acts of kindness can be someone’s anchor. I adored this novel, the end is so satisfying and uplifting that I ended up with a bit of a book hangover. Its as if Alice Hoffman’s writing reaches new depths and heights. I loved it.

This book is like the title Extraordinary, set in the early 1900s – The museum is human curiosities, those people born different – webbed fingers, conjoined twins, dwarfs – at a time when it was acceptable to see these people as items of interest. There is also a lot of background history to New York and workers rights.

I can thoroughly recommend it to you, it is a delight.

ttfn x

Adventures

A little spring hope

a camelia flower from the garden with vintage tea cup

The camellias are in bloom here, their glossy dark leaves a welcome sight with these gorgeous flowers hidden among the foliage a delight when all other plants seem to be barely alive. Oddly enough, in order to have flowers in February, you have to give tender loving care throughout the summer months six months ago these were just a promise! To be a gardener is to have faith, even if it is watering your Camilla during the dry summers, or planting seeds in the depths of winter for summer flowering, hope springs eternal. Its a positive reflection when we are facing the wider challenges of a Covid Pandemic – every vaccination is like a seed back to normality.

sewing seeds for summer

I adore sweet peas, in my last garden they would grow with abundance and flourish so much that I was able go gift bunches of their sweet scented flowers to family and friends all summer long. Here the sun seems hotter for the last two years they have simply burnt away to nothing leaving only one or two flowers. But I persist, this time I am going to choose a less sunnier spot – in the hope that a little shade will bring more success.

In my last garden, sweet peas were so easy to grow – that I felt confident of my green fingers, but now I realise that gardening also comes with lessons in letting go, you can’t control the outcome – nature has its part to play.

Hope springs, sweet pea seeds

I chose two varieties of sweet peas, Sugar and Spice is a container bushy plant and the more traditional Statesman – they are scented varieties because who could resist the joy of lifting a flower to take in the gorgeous scent? The winner of this race was the Sugar and Spice, here just popping through the compost on the kitchen window sill, only a week later.

sweet pea seedlings

Here they are another week later, just pushing out the first tiny leaves. The slumbering Statesman still just snuggling in the warm compost – only one little seedling showing a tiny speck of green!

Blues, pinks and cherry blossom.

Until the spring I will content myself with creating my own little cherry blossom, reminding myself of clear blue skies and sunshine, even if it is only in my imagination. Today, slate grey monochrome skies are the backdrop to swaying trees while pattering raindrops are dancing across the panes. I will stitch my spring flowers, listening to the radio and be filled with hope.

My camelia is in bloom

Even though we are in the depths of winter there is something beautiful to cherish, time to rest, slow down and dream.

ttfn.

Adventures

Winter pleasures

One of the most delightful aspects of working from home is that while everyone else is on the daily commute, or the train or stuck in traffic – I get to spend a quiet half hour before work enjoying the peace and quiet of home and a warm breakfast.

I’ve made a lot of porridge in my life, its a good start to the day, oats help to regulate blood sugar levels and it is comforting on a cold January morning, when the skies are grey and it feels like winter is going on forever!

I’ve only recently discovered a cooking method that delivers the comforting creamy texture of my Scottish heritage and childhood memories. (without the salt! – which was a bit of a shock the first time my grandparents made it for me!)

I won’t say it is the best way nor is it the only way, but it works for me and it is in line with slow living because good creamy porridge needs time and attention. I like the ritual aspect that making porridge gives in the morning – the exact opposite of my multi-tasking mind that seems to burn most things.

I put a couple of scoops of oats into a small pan which is already warm from the heat of the cooker, usually at the highest setting. I warm the oats gently stirring and then add the milk (as I am milk intolerant that is usually oat milk). I add enough milk to cover the oats and create a thick consistency, stirring constantly for a few minutes to prevent burning, then I add more milk – so that it becomes loose again. I continue to stir gently until the mixture thickens up again – then add more milk. I think I do this three or four times – eventually getting the consistency I like. I add half a teaspoon of honey and a pinch of mixed spice or cinnamon – which is delicious.

While the porridge cools enough to eat, it is very easy to wash out the pan. I wish I had learned this years ago – I used to pour in water and allow the pot to soak but it is hard work later on, and who wants to look at a porridge smeared pot? Use hot water a tiny squirt of soap and a brush and it is clean in no time, the oats don’t stick to the pan! its like magic. Who doesn’t want a bit of magic now and then?

Adventures

Poppy landscape

This is a photo taken by my dearest friend, J, I thought it would make a great composition for a needle felting project.

Having considered for a long time, I decided to take the plunge and buy a second hand embellisher so I was keen to experiment. I find the embellisher quite ferocious but it does make light work of creating backgrounds.

The photograph is more of a linear style, so I began with the three simple layers

1st stage, combination of dyed batting, felt and roving

I love the reflective quality of silk, using a pale blue for the sky, then following with strips of green felt – I laid the dyed roving on the top of this and the embellisher was very effective at getting the colours to blend in.

Adding more texture

What I enjoy most about this medium is the way you can build the layers and create depth, the wool creates a lovely texture of stems and grasses. I decided to add the wheat heads in a lovely deep ochre, using tapestry wool.

continuing to add depth using wool and roving

Tapestry wool is wonderful to use as the colours are varied, I enjoyed adding various shades of green – the embellisher making light work of this task; it would have taken me a few days to get to this stage, instead of the few short hours.

hand embroidery

I moved to hand embroidery, creating the ears of corn with a chain stitch, the poppies were silk again, using a buttonhole embroidery stitch to secure them. As the layers are created using wool, felt and batting, it is still quite easy to get the needle through all the layers.

I used feather stitch on the sky, to give the impression of clouds – I think, next time I won’t embellish through the silk as it seems to have crushed it somewhat, and lost some of its lustre but the texture is still effective.

Adventures, book review, Nature, victorian

Recovery – Time travelling back to Victorian Era

lighter crumble recipe

Oh Autumn days – how I love this time of the year – its time to reach for soft warm socks, thick warm woollens and longer evenings shuttered against blustery rain. It’s a time when we turn home for comfort and rest. Autumn is forever linked with new beginnings and celebrations of the years progress. It has been a very strange year indeed and now it is in it’s final phase!

A dear friend gave me some apples from her tree and I cannot think of anything more delightful than blackberry and apple crumble. Sadly, the blackberry crop was very poor this year, so I resorted to buying some – the ones in the shops were larger but I am not too sure if they had the flavour of the organic hedgerow varieties.

I created an alternative to a traditional wheat based topping – Panko breadcrumbs are rice based, stirred with enough melted butter and coconut oil coat the crumbs. The coconut oil helps with the crispness and the butter gives a lovely flavour, then I added a little soft brown sugar to taste. It is lighter crispy crumble topping, without the wheat belly!

The apples were gently simmered with ground nutmeg, cinnamon and ground cloves with some soft brown sugar to taste. Cloves really bring out the flavour of the apples using ground cloves avoids chewing on a rogue clove – there is usually one that escapes matter how much I look! Using ground clove makes life easy!

I had major surgery again early in September and I am now on the road to recovery, these bright lovelies were delivered to me by a very dear friend and now nearly four weeks later there are some still going strong! I have really enjoyed all the kind wishes, flowers and cards I have received, it is so lovely to have good friends and family.

discovering local walks

As part of my rehab I am taking daily walks – it has been quite an adventure although I have lived in this area for four years – I still found new delightful places by delving down footpaths and across bridges that I had not walked down before. It is sad to leave the dog behind but I am enjoying the gentle exercise and fresh air!

Nature table

Having time to collect leaves and then do little sketches is a wonderful way to spend my recovery. I have been dabbling with my watercolours – it seems now that I finally have the patience for this most delicate medium.

Autumn flowers

There is so many beautiful flowers and plants in season, walking gives you time to slow down and see the world – recovery is giving me the time to live at a slower pace, I am so grateful and I am trying to make the most of it.

It has turned colder now, as I pressed the button on the thermostat to turn on the heating – I was so thankful we live with so many modern conveniences – there is no coal to haul, no fires to lay, no calour gas fire hardly impacting on the chill walls and causing the windows to stream with condensation. I wake up in the morning, unafraid to pull back the covers in the bedroom which already warm with the boiler gently clicking away! It is noticing the simple pleasures that make life worth living.

We watched Elona Holmes on Amazon Prime – which was fun – I think it highlighted the way women were subjugated during the Victorian Era but it was a little bit far fetched. I really enjoyed the film – the story is fast paced and action filled – with a lot of very assertive women. The close relationship between Elona and her mother, (played by Helena Bonham Carter) was beautiful. I really loved the many beautiful costumes Elona wears – and the finishing school looked quite good fun, I would have loved the embroidery lessons! however they were wasted on Elona. I can highly recommend it for a little lighthearted fun. I did read on the internet that there have been statues commissioned of famous sisters of great men – the sister of Charles Dickens has been erected facing him in Portsmouth Guildhall square, Thomas Hardy and Mozart all had very talented sisters – all of whom gave up their talents upon entering marriage, so I am pleased to see these women get their final recognition.

from the BBC – Marian (JESSIE BUCKLEY) – (C) Origin Pictures – Photographer: Steffan Hill

Although for a story that really did highlight the plight of many Victorian women look to the BBCAdaptation of Wilkie Collins the Woman in White (Again on Prime). Not only did the book show how outrageously women were at the mercy of the men in their lives firstly their fathers and then their husbands, but the complex tale is engaging.

Men valued their ‘honour’ above their female offspring’s happiness – luckily Marion Holcombe proved to be a more realistic, assertive woman! Definitely has the edge on Elona Holmes as the tale is more subtle and subversive. The book itself is an epic, but the adaptation was superbly executed – even if I found Charles Dance a little too robust for Mr Fairley, I always imagined a weaker character and Count Fosco in my imagination looked like Hercule Poirot but the adaptation is much better the Italian charmer in the BBC adaptation is far more convincing!.

It is not an easy tale, Victorian women were committed to mental institutions a great deal, if they challenged the patriarchy. Marion Holcombe might challenge the conventions of Victorian Ladies at the time, showing herself to be a wonderful heroine but it is more likely her lack of male family is attributed to her freedom. The BBC adaptation is pretty close to the book! I highly recommend it! And if you fancy a good gothic read with the first investigating detective, then Wilkie Collins other tale ‘The Moonstone’ is one I highly recommend.

As if that wasn’t enough Victorian drama I am also enjoying listening to this audio book, Death at Bishop’s Keep by Robin Paige. Not only is is very well written – it also includes quotations from various Victorian publications at the start of the chapters that give you a background understanding for the particular chapter. For example, there is a domestic servant problem in one of the chapters – having a little outline about Victorian attitudes to domestic staff as an introduction, really helps to understand the plot.

E found book three in the series for me and I am thrilled to discover there are 12 books in the series! If this first one is anything to go by, I shall be time travelling the rest of the year!

ttfn x

Adventures, book review, hand stitched, home sewing, sewing

How was your weekend? …. Monday 3 August.

Stitch meditation

My weekend began on Friday, listening to the marvellous Cathy Hay on Youtube they had lots of videos – CoCoVid, an on-line, interactive event put on by the members of CosTube during the weekend that would have been Costume College there was a fantastic video about having the confidence to dress differently, which you can watch until next weekend. It reminded me of how much I loved to dress up – so I donned my lovely lemon dress beautiful straw hat and went shopping in the local town. It made me feel great.

I am trying to save more this month – however I forgot the Library was opening later and so whiled away the half an hour wait in a charity shop. It is always amazing that when you aren’t looking for things you seem to find some lovely items so that by the end of my twenty minutes I had some well needed new clothes.

The reason this is in the charity shop is that the front section has distorted out of shape leaving the front gaping. So the buttons not only added another element, it fixed the gape!

I also picked up this gorgeous silk monsoon dress which is too big for me – with a few minor adjustments (a bit of hand stitching left to be done) I had managed to alter it to fit .. will show you when it is finished.

I just returned in time to catch Jenny Raymont’s on line class for machine embroidery – it would have been the festival of Quilts this weekend too, so there were quite a few on line courses to choose from. I really enjoyed doing this through zoom, it worked really well and I was still in the comfort of my own home – an introverts delight! I didn’t do the landscape but instead practised some leaves… I have another revamp in mind and wanted to get some practise in.

I have been practising making bricks… bread this one came out really well – there is an real art to getting the bread to rise properly – this is a joy that it came out bread shaped, but it is still heavier than a shop bought loaf.

I picked up these lovelies on the way home from the shops, they fell on my head! There is a plum tree overhanging a garden fence and they are all over the pathway. In no time I had a small bag full and I went home smiling, last week I purchased some exactly the same from a local farm shop.

Despite making over 50 masks, friends and family! – E did not have one and I was wearing a early prototype that didn’t quite work. It was time to make a couple of masks for us – I think the fabric is quite appropriate don’t you think?

Sunday was set aside to make a dress and having seen this book on lovely and grateful’s Blog, I chose to listen to it as I stitched away. It is thought provoking, I had never realised white privilege existed and if nothing else I shall take that away from listening to this, but it is fascinating to see life from another perspective. Listening to this book rather than reading it is like having the author in the room with you, but I found I needed time to absorb the story. I am still going through it slowly, but while it is profound and disturbing, it is hard to find a safe place to explore these discussions. . What this is is a window into the experience of Eddo Lodge and the community around her and how the system has stacked the odds against ethnic people. Yes it includes the story of the slave trade, but recent events race protests that happened in my lifetime, including the Brixton riots, the death of PC Blakelock and the appalling injustice that protected the killers of Steven Lawrence: these things happened in my lifetime and it knocks my faith in the system. It is interesting to hear about someone else’s life experience of living in England, one that varies from my own and one that I can recommend reading.

I live in an area that is 90% white, my own experience of equality and diversity is through workplace training – one course I had to attend in the early 1990s began with a statement -if we were to say anything that was deemed offensive we would be disciplined for it or maybe even lose our jobs. I wish Eddo Lodge had been there instead. There is so much to say about this book, but one of the key things is that finds me in wholehearted agreement with the author is that we are all afraid of discussing this openly, honestly and in public. While fear remains, we are never going to find a way forward.

So what can I do? I can steer a path away from the ethnic bias that is my YouTube channel list, I can move aside to explore other voices and other stories separate from my own. I can strive – not to judge others, be that the person walking towards me on the street or the mother in the supermarket with the screaming toddler.

Here is the finished dress – it is always wonderful to stitch and have something to show at the end of the day. Its the same Kate Dress pattern I have used a lot – the style suits me so well – this time I chose to make a long ankle length version in a drapey stretch cotton.

Have a good week

Adventures

Travels with Jenny Colgan… book reviews

Escape to an Island in the North

Life in general has been pretty stressful – I was one of the people still working during lockdown in need of a holiday, if not in body then definitely in spirit. This book came along with a pile of others – I tried one or two before picking up this novel and it was just what I needed.

Flora is definitely, absolutely sure that escaping from the quiet Scottish island where she grew up to the noise and hustle of the big city was the right choice. What was there for her on Mure? It’s a place where everyone has known her all her life, and no one will let her forget the past. In the city, she can be anonymous, ambitious and indulge herself in her hopeless crush on her gorgeous boss, Joel. 

When a new client demands Flora’s presence back on Mure, she’s suddenly swept back into life with her brothers (all strapping, loud and seemingly incapable of basic housework) and her father. As Flora indulges her new-found love of cooking and breathes life into the dusty little pink-fronted shop on the harbour, she’s also going to have to come to terms with past mistakes – and work out exactly where her future lies…

The Island of Mure in summer was a wonderful place to escape to, Flora was a likeable character – we followed her journey from dismal heat baked London to her home back in this beautiful island in the North Sea… so far north it was closer to Greenland than mainland Scotland.

The island characters are a mixed bunch of scary and friendly, but Flora goes back to face her family after she left under a bit of cloud. The more I read about the endless daylight, the empty sandy beaches the more I found myself with yearning to visit Scotland.

It’s a romance but there is more depth to the characters than the usual chic lit, the characters are struggling to overcome the past, even Flora who eventually comes to understand her family better and make peace. There are three books in this series all based around the fictional Island of Mure… I am saving the other two for winter… I had to stop as I was yearning to pack my bags and move to Scotland…

I read this book shortly after finishing the beach shop bakery – I needed another little holiday from real life and I was falling in love with Scotland. I live in the South, where the houses seem to be cramming together, and there are people everywhere – it is so good to escape.

Jenny deals with very real issues in her books, both feature mental health problems, depression and how it can affect those around the victim, how the shadow falls into the next generation too. I also love the ethnic mix in this book, the characters aren’t all white.

Zoe is a single mother, sinking beneath the waves trying to cope by herself in London. Hari, her gorgeous little boy is perfect in every way – except for the fact that he just doesn’t speak, at all. When her landlord raises the rent on her flat, Zoe doesn’t know where to turn. 

Then Hari’s aunt suggests Zoe could move to Scotland to help run a bookshop. Going from the lonely city to a small village in the Highlands could be the change Zoe and Hari desperately need. 

Faced with an unwelcoming boss, a moody, distant bookseller named Ramsay Urquart, and a band of unruly children, Zoe wonders if she’s made the right decision. But Hari has found his very first real friend, and no one could resist the beauty of the loch glinting in the summer sun. If only Ramsay would just be a little more approachable…

Dreams start here . . . 

It is a lovely break for a good few hours with people who have troubles, but come together and find love and that rarest of things…. a sense of belonging.

If you are in need of escape from the worlds woes …. these books are ones to enjoy.

You can find out more about Jenny’s books on her website